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The medical ethics trap behind retinopathy of prematurity and much cerebral palsy:

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2. Oxygen Starving Practices and Experiments

Many premature babies with immature lungs die or suffer brain damage from lack of supplementary oxygen because medical schools have taught for decades to give these children as little as possible of this life-saving gas. Too much oxygen is said to afflict their still immature eyes with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).


However, the 1954 trial which condemned oxygen violated the methods of science as well as the 1949 Nuremberg Code of ethics for medical experiments on humans.

The resulting practice of breath-starving preemies at the edge of asphyxiation still kills and maims many of these each year in an attempt to guard a few from blindness. There is no evidence that it works.


2.1. Unacceptable risks for uncertain benefits
The early oxygen rationing fatally asphyxiated an estimated 15,000 babies a year to prevent visual impairments for about 2,000 among them. 


2.2. Pain and
permanent harm for the survivors

The oxygen rationing keeps preemies gasping for air and weakened; it starves their brain and leaves many of the survivors with cerebral palsy and other brain damage.


2.3. Liberal" oxygen as political evil
Some British physicians had compared oxygen supplements for preemies with undeserved subsidies for the weak, a symbol of the National Health Service they despised. They thus associated this breathing assistance with Socialized Medicine.


In those years, the American Medical Association was waging an all-out advertising campaign to defeat President Truman's National Health Insurance plan which it denounced as Socialized Medicine. Passions ran high, and once oxygen appeared linked with that demon, be it metaphorically, it became a pariah almost overnight despite its then half-century of successful service as reliable life-saver.


2.4. Poor science in the oxygen trial
To make their condemnation of oxygen official, a group of prominent American physicians held in 1953/54 a multi-hospital show-trial, the Cooperative Study.


This trial was a sham because its verdict was as pre-arranged as in the infamous political show-trials of those years. The physicians in charge voiced their desire for oxygen's guilt long before any results from that alleged "study" were in.  They also openly violated the Nuremberg Code in that they deliberately risked lives to test a treatment for a non-fatal condition.  In addition, they rigged the study design to make oxygen appear guilty.


Then they hailed their so contrived results as a major medical breakthrough and convinced Congress thereby to expand the appropriations for such medical research.


2.5. Violations of the Nuremberg Code
Knowing that preemies with breathing problems die quickly if they don't receive oxygen right away, the participating doctors withheld this essential help for the first two days from all the babies enrolled in the study. As could be expected, their Draconian withholding killed off the preemies with the most immature lungs who also happened to have the most immature eyes and were thus most at risk for developing ROP.


The study leaders found therefore less eye damage among the survivors in the low-oxygen group and immediately curtailed supplementary oxygen for all preemies, faithfully followed in this by neonatologists around the world.


2.6. The medical
"better dead than blind" attitude

Due to the study planners' typical lack of concern for the effects of their intervention on the patients, there was no follow-up study to evaluate this drastic change. The results of the much hailed oxygen rationing miracle cure were therefore slow to emerge, and certainly less publicized, but they can be pieced together.

  • During the first and most severe decade of oxygen restrictions, deaths from respiratory problems drove up the overall mortality among preemies in Baltimore by more than 60%. 

  • An analysis from England suggested that there, each case of blindness prevented may have cost 16 lives and caused many more cases of cerebral palsy among the survivors.

  • An estimate based on the sudden rise in day-of-birth deaths yields that the manipulated results of this fraudulent Cooperative Study slew annually about 15,000 babies in the US alone - over twice as many Americans per year as the Viet Nam war.

2.7. Current deaths from oxygen monitoring
The oxygen curtailment is now slightly eased but still harms many babies. A 1987 report on oxygen monitoring at the University of Miami, for instance, said that the mortality in the continuously monitored group was 34% higher than among the babies who had received a little more oxygen, and that the probability of this coincidence occurring at random was about 6%.


There were thus 15 chances in 16 that the monitoring was associated with the additional deaths, but with their vial-confusing medical logic, the trial authors mistook these lethal side effects for a desired treatment effect which must pass that probability test with 5% or less to be accepted as "significant".


They omitted therefore to read this high correlation with the excess deaths as the danger sign any patient informed of this risk would see in such poor odds. They also omitted to check for or warn against the cerebral palsy and other brain damage bound to be caused by the stricter rationing among the oxygen-starved survivors.


Their deadly monitoring had no discernible effect on the incidence of ROP.


No effect was to be expected since the arterial oxygen concentrations that they monitored at such great cost to the patients had been known since 1924 to be unrelated to the oxygenation of the retina, and were thus irrelevant, anyway.


2.8. Continuing the futile oxygen monitoring
In concert with other speakers, the editor of Pediatrics stated at a 1988 symposium on ROP that "we now realize the absolute futility" of trying to manipulate blood oxygen concentrations. No one can measure them at the retina, the only place that matters.


Despite this futility, despite the lack of any known benefit from oxygen withholding, and despite its amply documented harmful effects of cerebral palsy, other brain damage, and death, the oxygen starving of preemies continues.


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